We must make ‘better offer’ to Global South than China’s project – EU Commission chief

The European bloc needs to outcompete Beijing’s Belt and Road investment initiative, Ursula von der Leyen has said

The EU needs to offer a real alternative to China’s economic projects for the countries of the Global South, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Saturday. 

The EU and likeminded nations must use the “window of opportunity” as “many countries of the Global South are looking for alternative funding options,” she said at the G7 summit in Japan’s Hiroshima.

Von der Leyen claimed that China’s Belt and Road Initiative – a global infrastructure investment strategy unveiled ten years ago – has been losing its appeal because many countries had “bad experiences with China.” 

“They took Chinese loans and ended up in a debt crisis,” the EU official stated, adding that the European bloc and the G7 must fill the void. 

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“We want to put a better offer on the table. If we are in a race, we are in a race to the top,” von der Leyen said. She added that the EU is rolling out 90 “flagship projects” on different continents as part of its Global Gateway investment scheme. 

Von der Leyen’s words came as G7 countries adopted a joint statement that accused Beijing of “economic coercion” and technology theft.

China, in turn, has repeatedly accused G7 members of abusing trade regulations in order to impose their will on others.

Beijing has also denied claims that the Belt and Road project hurts other nations. “The so-called Chinese debt trap is a lie made up by the US and some other Western countries,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said last year.

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